Direct mail fundraising is an impactful tool that your nonprofit can use to connect with donors of all ages. While there is a misconception that direct mail isn’t as effective as fast-paced digital marketing, this form of fundraising can uniquely motivate donors to take action and help you reach your nonprofit’s goals. Specifically, direct mail adds a personal touch because it provides donors with a tangible message—something that can feel more meaningful than a simple social media post.

As an organization with experience in the world of direct mail fundraising, you’re probably familiar with the reality of working to stand out in a crowded mailbox. Challenges like communications shifting online, donors receiving large amounts of mail, and creative fatigue in your organization can result in some mail going overlooked.

To maximize your marketing return on investment and engage more deeply with donors, we’ve outlined the following strategies for your organization:

  1. Make direct mail personal.
  2. Keep messages concise.
  3. Create an appealing visual design.
  4. Include a clear call to action.

Making direct mail feel authentically personal is one of the most critical factors in your campaign’s success. But, adding these personalized elements can be difficult if your organization isn’t sure how to begin or which details to include.

Let’s get started by discussing how you can use data to add individualized messaging to your direct mail campaign.

1. Make direct mail personal.

When donors receive direct mail that addresses them warmly and personally, recognizes their philanthropic interests and passions, and acknowledges their generosity, they’ll be more inclined to support your organization.

Adding this personalization can help them find the programs and involvement opportunities that best complement their interests and reveal how their individual contribution benefits your organization.

Donor data is your most useful tool when personalizing communications. Leveraging a fundraising analytics tool, you can pinpoint information about donors like past giving to your nonprofit and special events they’ve attended. Incorporate this data into your direct mail by:

  • Addressing the donor by name. A simple way to add a personal touch to your communications is to greet donors by name. This greeting conveys that you care about reaching out to each donor with customized communications rather than in a more generic, mass-communication style.
  • Focusing on their interests. You can segment your audience based on their interests by analyzing which programs and opportunities they participated in previously. For example, if a donor frequently donates and participates in your animal shelter’s dog walking program each week, they will likely respond positively to direct mail requesting donations to support dogs with special needs.
  • Recognizing past involvement. In addition to using involvement data to identify and cater to donors’ interests, make sure to acknowledge and thank donors for their involvement. Showing your gratitude can go a long way in motivating donors to give again.

As you plan the copy for your direct mail, opt for using the word “you” as much as possible to highlight donors and their impact. Additionally, signing off with a specific staff member’s name (like your development director) gives readers a face and name to associate with the message.

2. Keep messages concise.

Like any marketing communication, pieces of direct mail should be skimmable for readers. Avoid using dense, long blocks of text that could deter readers, and opt for short words and paragraphs instead. Above all, choose an attention-grabbing, easy-to-read title or heading that will make donors pause to read your message as they flip through their mail.

When writing your direct mail copy, choose short, commonly-used words over complex jargon to ensure readers understand what you are relaying. Limit paragraphs to no more than three lines, using simple or compound sentences and bulleted lists. Aim for your writing to be no higher than an eighth-grade reading level. Once you have a first draft ready, consider using a tool that can measure readability and suggest ways to simplify the copy.

If your organization wants to convey more information to donors, you can include scannable QR codes that link to online resources. You link to a blog about a new program you’re launching or link to a video that tells a specific impact story. This approach can help integrate your direct mail fundraising with other channels and keep donors in the loop.

3. Create an appealing visual design.

A donor’s first impression of your direct mail campaign stems from the way the mail looks. As Pursuant’s guide to direct mail fundraising explains, the visual aspects of your direct mail should both enhance the message in your copy and guide your viewer’s eye to the main focus (your fundraising appeal).

Here are a few graphic design components to keep in mind when designing your direct mail:

  • Branded elements. Make sure to include visual cues like your nonprofit’s name, logo, colors, and specific fonts that will signal who the mail is coming from. Over time, this will help foster trust and higher brand awareness among your supporters.
  • High-quality images. Whether you take the images yourself or select them from a stock photo website, make sure any photos included in your direct mail are high-quality and relevant to your cause. For print formats, imagery should be at least 300 pixels per inch when appropriately sized.
  • Infographics. Infographics can present pages of dense, confusing data in a clean and digestible visual format. These graphics are great for showing the scope of your cause or project and the impact of your organization’s work.

In addition to memorable branding and captivating imagery, your design team should also consider accessibility when creating any visual design. Most people associate accessibility with digital media. However, there are things your organization can do to help donors read and engage with your print media, too.

For instance,  opt for large lettering, choose readable fonts, ensure there is proper contrast between the text and background colors, and select matte paper without glare.

4. Include a clear call to action.

As Double the Donation explains, your nonprofit should encourage future interactions and build relationships by including calls to action in promotions. These can include URLs or QR codes to your online donation page, a donation slip, or your organization’s contact information. Because this appeal inspires action from donors, it’s essential that you make it clear and simple so they understand how to support your organization.

To make your calls to action more effective:

  • Use action-oriented language like “Donate Today” or “Join Us.”
  • Make taking action convenient for donors by including any QR codes, URLs, or envelopes they need to make a contribution.
  • Use eye-catching designs like bold fonts and colors to make your call to action stand out on the page.

Your call to action is a great place to integrate direct mail with digital marketing by pointing donors to online platforms like your donation form, website, or social media pages. This strategy will help you build an omnichannel campaign that engages donors across various platforms.

As technology advances, it’s becoming easier and more accessible for nonprofits of all sizes to create personalized, high-quality direct mail fundraising campaigns. To make your communications more effective and maintain multiple touchpoints with donors, prioritize integrating your marketing across communication channels. Be sure to maintain consistent branding across all platforms, messages, and donation pages to make your communications memorable, build brand awareness, and foster trust with donors.